April 2005


Great help on school phobia

As the parent of a child who recently suffered from school phobia, I was extremely interested in the article “When Your Child Says ‘No’ to School” (March 2005).

As a parent of five children under 11 with one being severely autistic, I found that dealing with school phobia in my oldest son was one of the most difficult parenting experiences I have ever encountered. For us, it was very serious, affecting my son’s school attendance and emotional well-being.

I was incredibly lucky to have a supportive staff assist me in helping my son. I hope to never go through this again, but I appreciate the information included in your article as well as all the assistance I received from my son’s social worker, teachers and staff, as well as my own friends and family who desperately tried to help me during this time. JENNIFER SHANAHAN Glen Ellyn

Chicago Parent is awesome

I have been a mom for eight years and I have read numerous magazines about parenting and children, but I have never read anything as enlightening and informative as Chicago Parent. It is definitely the tops. LANNIE BROWN-SIMON Chicago

Students raise $3,400

We all know how horrible the tsunami was, and all of us at North Park Elementary School wanted to help. We decided to have a fundraiser to collect money. To tell everyone in the school about it, we sent out brightly colored fliers describing our fundraiser. We also made posters, as well as a big thermometer to chart our progress. 

Little by little, the money started coming in. After two weeks, we raised more than $3,400 and we are all so proud. I know we wish all of us could do more and we hope that every cent is being used to help the tsunami victims. It is amazing to watch NPES come together for those in need.  ALLISON LAZO Eighth grade North Park Elementary School Chicago

Bush’s priorities not mine

I am deeply concerned about the values reflected in the president’s budget request, which promises endless war and increasing insecurity and disparity between the haves and the have nots. 

This budget will only make life harder for many on the edge of poverty. It will not assure that the basic human needs of the most vulnerable people are met. It ignores the ominous trend in the degradation and depletion of the earth’s resources.

If this president is really religious, as he claims to be, he would have the poorest of the poor at heart, because Jesus admonished us to care for the least of the least. This nation was debt free when he took office, and look at the mess he has gotten us into. It will only get worse unless Congress holds him accountable and tries to make things right.

Rep. Danny Davis and Sens. Barack Obama and Dick Durbin must stand up and challenge these misplaced priorities.  CHARLAINE MCANANY Oak Park

Thanks for warm words

Regarding Susy Schultz’ column (“What to expect?” March 2005), I just wanted to say I completely agree. I read it while waiting to pick up my 2-year-old and was immediately smiling. When I got to the part about the “moment of clarity,” I actually got a few chills—that’s exactly how I have felt on many occasions.

In a few weeks I will be having my second boy, and had been pondering how to prepare myself. I am having a homebirth with a midwife, and my husband and I are much more relaxed and hoping to pay attention to the little joys this time around. Thanks for your heartening words that came just at the right moment, reminding me that we can’t prepare for what’s coming, not really. JENNY HALL La Grange

Veganism is not difficult

I was disappointed in Susy Schultz’ column, “The Vegan Adventure Part 2” (January 2005). I am vegan and have been for 14 years, as is my husband. We have two children and a third due in May. All are vegan. It is not hard. In fact, it is becoming easier each year. My boys love vegan Sloppy Joes, tacos, burgers, nondairy macaroni and cheese, soy milk and nondairy ice cream. I cannot think of one thing missing in their diets at all. 

They are not deprived in the least. They like baking chocolate chip cookies, ordering chocolate cake at vegan bakeries, even buying doughnuts when we are at the natural foods market.

It is a shame Schultz took on a bothered attitude when her teenage son decided to explore the vegan diet. Instead of supporting him, she seemed to wish the month away as a nuisance.

As a mother, I would have found online groups that have teenage vegans learning and sharing together like vegfamily.com or veganrepresent.com. I would have found recipes for the whole family. I would have tried vegan-friendly restaurants such as Chicago Diner, Soul Veg or Blind Faith, or visited ethnic restaurants that can make vegan dishes.

I was a vegetarian for several years. My husband and I tried the vegan diet to see who would be able to live without cheese the longest. After 30 days, we were hooked. We never felt healthier.

I hope Schultz’s son can try again sometime when he has more support.  LISA JOY ROSING Evanston

Affordable breast pumps

You mention that a dual-electric pump costs “more than $1,000 to buy.” (“Liquid gold: Mother’s Milk Club at Rush shows stunning success in encouraging breastfeeding,” February 2005)

While this may be true of the Symphony pump mentioned in the article, it is misleading. Medela and Ameda make perfectly wonderful, long-term dual pumps for $200-$300. I bought a fabulous Ameda and pumped for three months until my 29-weeker came home and could take breast milk. Later, I was still pumping three to five times a day.

Thanks, though, for covering the Rush University program and spreading the good word about the unquestionable benefits of mothers’ milk. SAMANTHA MIX Streamwood

Take this yo-yo off the market

World Consumer Rights Day is celebrated each year on March 15 to commemorate that historic declaration of consumer rights. I believe our current administration has lost sight of the consumer. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission fails to protect our smallest consumers—our children—from potentially deadly toys and baby products, such as the Yo-Yo Water Ball.

While the commission acknowledges there have been almost 400 cases of reported injuries, it says it cannot take action because the “potential risk of strangulation” from the toy does not meet congressionally-mandated standards.

It is time for consumers to stand up for their right to be safe from dangerous products. Write to elected officials and the Consumer Product Safety Commission to urge them to change the law so all children will be protected from these products.

Visit my Web site, www.dangersofwateryoyos.com. And thank you for supporting me as I continue to work for a national ban of the Yo-Yo Water Ball. LISA LIPIN Skokie

Anti-gun ad may help some

I am a single working mother of a 3-year-old boy. I have the utmost respect for parents and families from all walks of life. After seeing the ad campaign against keeping loaded guns in homes with children and reading the response to this ad, I had some thoughts of my own. 

I understand the anger some parents may feel after seeing this ad—it was quite disturbing. To some parents, it may also be a reality. All people live differently and in different environments. Parents have one thing in common: We are all parents. And we should all respect each other and how we live.

I feel it is important to include as many family communities as possible when publishing a magazine with the title “Chicago Parent.” Maybe that particular ad that enraged some helped others. Maybe, after seeing that ad, a parent took that loaded gun out of their home.

I hope that instead of being shocked and angry about an ad that may not pertain to our personal life, we could be hopeful that this ad did have an impact on someone else.  VIVIAN FRIESE Hawthorn Woods

In the March issue, I reviewed the new VeggieTales release, “Duke and the Great Pie War,” and said I was disappointed Big Idea Productions did not accurately tell Moses’ story. I wrote: “I’m not a Biblical scholar, but even I know that Moses floated off in the basket into the house of Pharaoh, not back home.”

It is heartening to know you read what we write and you care—very much. We received more than 50 letters and phone calls saying I was wrong. Moses was returned to his mother for two to three years to be wet nursed before being taken by Pharaoh’s daughter.

We never shy away from printing letters about our mistakes, but we received too many on this matter to print.

Many were kind enough to quote the exact passage in Exodus. Others took me to task for being irresponsible with my platform at the magazine. Many defended Big Idea for daring to tell Bible stories.

I agree that I failed. I stumbled around in the review and did a poor job of expressing myself. I know you’ll be surprised to know I did reread the passage before I wrote the review.

I took your advice and watched the show again. My opinion did not change. I still am disappointed. This is not Big Idea’s best work.

In the past, I counted on Big Idea to take on the difficult Bible stories. It’s why theirs are better than other Bible shows. This time, I believe the company took the easy way out.

“Duke and the Great Pie War” is a lovely story about Miriam learning family responsibility. But it is a candy-coated telling of Moses’ story. We never learn the Egyptians killed the first-born sons of the Hebrews, and we are left to believe Moses’ family lives happily ever after. 

Yes, Pharaoh’s valley-girl daughter says of baby Moses, “I am totally keeping him.” When she complains she can’t care for him, Miriam volunteers her mother. To which Pharaoh’s daughter says, “Bring it back when he can walk and stuff.” As the episode ends, Miriam tells her mom, “The princess said you can stay home and take care of him. You don’t have to work in the brick yard anymore.” They all agree: “God answered our prayers. Our little Moses is safe.” 

Technically, it’s correct. But, in my opinion, VeggieTales missed an opportunity to tell the full and painful story of Moses, who became a leader of his people despite losing his family.

My review is not the final word. Watch the show. And tell me what you think (sschultz@chicagoparent.com). Susy Schultz

Kids Eat Chicago

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